Breakthrough Central Texas wants to help thousands more students become first in their families to attend college

Michael Griffith, Breakthrough Central Texas executive director said the nonprofit is looking to significantly grow to help more students in the next five years.

Michael Griffith, Breakthrough Central Texas executive director said the nonprofit is looking to significantly grow to help more students in the next five years.

Image description
Growing opportunities
Image description
Breakthrough Central Texas
Image description
Breakthrough Central Texas
Data shows the gap between Central Texas low-income students and their peers in the area is growing when it comes to completing post-high school education.

According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the number of students from the 13-county Central Texas area who earned a two-year, four-year or master’s degree has increased by 20.43% over the last four years. However, economically disadvantaged students are not seeing a proportionate share of those gains.

In 2015, economically disadvantaged students made up 45.8% of all degree completions by Central Texas students, and in 2018, that number dropped to 43.73%, per the THECB.

Breakthrough Central Texas is a nonprofit organization working to close that gap and help students who want to be the first in their families to attend college.

Michael Griffith, executive director at Breakthrough Central Texas, said there is a common perception that barriers for low-income students are simply financial. In reality, they include social and emotional challenges far more complex than a simple issue of cost.

“They are facing the entire gamut,” Griffith said.

The challenges do not stop upon high school graduation. Often, Griffith said, students arrive on college campuses already feeling out of place.

“When you are in that space where you’re thinking,  ‘I’m not sure I belong here,’ then everything that happens becomes a tally of, ‘Do I belong here or do I not?,’” Griffith said.

Breakthrough Central Texas works with students from sixth grade through high school in Austin, Manor and Del Valle ISDs to break down all those non-financial barriers, and advising services continue through college. Programs start with a six-week middle school summer program and then continue through the school year, with one-on-one advising and academic services that become more tailored to certain skills as students get older.

Breakthrough Central Texas launched a campaign Sept. 12 to raise $10 million in philanthropic dollars to allow it to increase staff and build its capacity, with the goal of increasing enrollment by more than 1,000 students by 2024.

If the nonprofit reaches that goal, Central Texas will become the top area in the state in the number of low-income students earning college degrees, according to Griffith.

“It’s ambitious, but it’s also possible,” he said.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at


Students at Norman-Sims Elementary School and Austin ISD's 124 other schools across the district will now be allowed to remove masks during outdoor physical activities with the permission of a parent or guardian. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD makes outdoor masking optional, eases other health, safety restrictions

Students engaging in outdoor physical activity will now have the option to remove masks.

House Bill 1024, signed into law May 12, allows restaurants and bars to permanently sell alcoholic beverages to-go. (Courtesy Pexels)
Cocktails to-go are here to stay in Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott signs change into law May 12

Supporters say the change will help restaurants continue to recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Austin's phased process for moving people experiencing homelessness out of unregulated encampments will roll out through the summer. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
City officials detail homeless education and enforcement plan with Proposition B ordinances now in effect

The process that will eventually remove the city's homeless encampment begins this month with outreach and warnings and will stretch until late summer with full enforcement.

Residents will have until May 2023 to obtain a Real ID. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
US Department of Homeland Security extends Real ID deadline until 2023

Drivers will have until May 2023 to get the Real ID, which will be required for adults boarding a U.S. commercial flight.

Susan Bailey was elected president of the American Medical Association in June 2020. (Courtesy American Medical Association)
'I am convinced we will beat COVID': American Medical Association President Susan Bailey discusses vaccine successes, myths, challenges

Bailey was elected president of the American Medical Association in June 2020. Much of the organization's focus during that time has been on vaccine transparency and distribution.

Valentina’s offers breakfast and lunch tacos as well as barbecue. (Courtesy Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ)
South Austin's Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ will move to Buda in next year

The business announced it will be moving within the next year.

Under the city of Austin's phased enforcement plan released May 10, citations at public encampments will begin in mid-June to be followed by arrests and clearances in July as necessary. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin's homeless ordinances back on books May 11, but arrests, camp clearings won't start until July

Austin announced a "phased process" to introduce Proposition B ordinances beginning with one month of outreach followed by one month of warnings and citations before arrests or clearances begin as necessary.

Pfizer vaccines could become available to kids 12 and up as soon as next week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
FDA expands Pfizer vaccine authorization to children ages 12 to 15 years old

This is the first time people under the age of 16 have been granted access to a coronavirus vaccine.

Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopened to the public in April. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopens in Austin; turf fields open in Pflugerville and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

I-35 traffic
State now accepting public input on North Austin I-35 overhaul project

The public now has the ability to review and provide feedback on planning materials for a $400 million I-35 project.